Forever wheels?

business carbon cross disc brakes gravel rims Stuff We Sell

An interesting thing happens with disc brake wheels - there's some likelihood that they'll last forever or something close to it. In our minds, this is a pretty big deal for a bunch of reasons. 

As a start, we find it a bit easier to justify "nicer" - or however you want to say it - disc brake builds. Knowing that you're going to amortize the cost over presumably a longer ownership and use time frame, spending a bit more to get another increment of whatever attribute you're looking for at the expense of some added cost seems a better trade. That's decidedly not to say that there isn't value to be found at lower price points - we've got builds that leave you a bunch of change from $700 that will blow you away, with specs and performance that make wheels costing twice that blush. But we've also got wheels that cost a step above that, which perform with or better than stuff that costs twice (and more) what they do, and you can feel great about those for relative value as well as "leave nothing on the table compared to anything else" performance. 

There is also, of course, no bad side of the trade except for the extra dough, in contrast to rim brake clinchers. No parasitic weight, no braking compromise, no possibility that you're going to overheat them, no increased brittleness of the structure. 

The other part of it gets a little twistier. All of these companies (and throw ours in with that) have had this tailwind of actual performance enhancements (better alloys, faster shapes, wider widths) and perceived enhancements (oversold claims of free or buyable speed), coupled with the fact that rim brake rims do in fact wear out in heavy use, and the market is artificially inflated by some factor. 

 

What does this mean, long run? Excellent question, but I'm getting my MBA in the slow season just in case! Marketers being marketers, I think we'll see a lot of shifting goal posts and "oh that was good last year but the new new is way better you're an idiot if you still ride that!" Nature of the beast. But I think we'll see some fallout, too. We love our positioning, with a whole lot of wheels to cover more or less any use case, at pricing levels that allow us to keep doing what we do, that give you the performance and confidence to be secure in your purchase, and avoid the "seriously, you guys are smoking crack" of much of the rest of the market.

We also see a move afoot to spec the really expensive disc bikes with better and better wheels - perhaps because the purchasers of these bikes don't already have a garage full of nice wheels to use with them, and partially because of "system" design integration. But lower down on the cost curve, a ton of you are going to buy more reasonably priced bikes that still come with wheels that you'll want to change right away, and we think that our positioning aligns well with that transaction level. 

But who knows? It will be an interesting part of the journey. 


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  • Dave on

    Matt – They’re good looking wheels!

    Chris – Here’s a fairly recent post with ALL of our thoughts on alloy versus brass nipples. https://novemberbicycles.com/blogs/blog/spoke-nipples-alloy-versus-brass

  • Chris on

    I notice your standard builds like GOAT28 Discs are built using brass nipples. What is your thought on building with modern alloy nipples in terms of weight, cost, and durability?

  • Matt Wever on

    Hey, those wheels leaning on the hydrangea bush look familiar! Almost like they’re on my bike as we speak. (Love them, by the way).

  • dave on

    bipolarbear – Thanks, and valid enough. Certainly that is welcome and encouraged, but there is generally a mind set that makes those combos less likely. Our position is that it’s very much not an objective thing, but it exists.

    North – Absolutely true, there will be a period of time where people buy more than the normal “market volume” of wheels to replace lame wheels that came on bikes or to augment good wheels that came on bikes, absolutely. What comes after that? Who knows.

  • North Krimsly on

    I want the Café Racer 46 Disc w/ Aivee MP2 wheelset! But first, I have to get a disc bike…I’m working on it! Actually, that’s another thing that will help you stay in business — all the riders over the next several years who are trading in their rim-brake bikes for disc-brake bikes.



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